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Submitted by Evanston Community Foundation

Six organizations recently completed a new two-year program, Building the Future, offered by Evanston Community Foundation (ECF). Designed to grow nonprofit capacity to raise individual gifts, Building the Future matched $135,000 in 60 gifts and provided both training and coaching to each organization to sustain these efforts.

“The training we received was pivotal in the way we approach development as a board.  Learning that there is a sequential, systematic method to asking for money has made a big difference in our organization’s ability to raise major gifts and be able to serve our families,” Marsha Richman, Board President, Infant Welfare Society of Evanston.

The inaugural cohort of the two-year program, selected in November 2017, included Books and Breakfast, Warren W. Cherry Preschool, Curt’s Café, Infant Welfare Society of Evanston, Learning Bridge Early Education Center, and Mudlark Theater.  Organizational teams of executive directors, development staff, and board members committed to participating in a six-session major gifts class, led by Marc Hilton, a development consultant with over 35 years of experience. Hilton also provided 18 hours of individual coaching to each organization. Organizations were challenged to raise between $15,000 and $25,000 in new and increased gifts of $1,500 to $2,500.

“Building the Future is intended not to be just about this match,” says Marybeth Schroeder, Vice President, Programs, at ECF. “Our goal is for organizations to become more sustainable by gaining skills and confidence to tell their compelling stories of their community impact in order to build individual support. This initial group of grantees did a great job of not just raising the funds but of raising their board and staff’s engagement in this process.”

“This program helped us strengthen our development infrastructure and helped our board and staff get on the same page around fundraising. It was a great mix of motivation, along with the nuts and bolts of coaching,” said Kim Hammock, Executive Director, Books and Breakfast.

Building the Future is made possible because of a generous anonymous donor to Evanston Community Foundation, who believes in the importance of helping nonprofit organizations build their sustainability. Since 2009, the donor has supported the Partners for the Future program through a donor advised fund at the Foundation, providing $50,000 to $100,000 matching major gift challenges for seven Evanston organizations to date. The Building the Future Program was created in 2017 by ECF and the donor to serve smaller organizations.

A second cohort of six nonprofit organizations has been selected to work with ECF and consultant Hilton through 2021. They will be announcing their gift challenges in 2020.

Founded in 1986, the Evanston Community Foundation helps Evanston thrive now and forever as a vibrant, equitable and inclusive Evanston, where every member of our community can thrive. Through grants, training, and making connections, we enable Evanston nonprofits and community organizations to deliver their mission more effectively. We leverage the generosity of our donors, so their charitable giving can have the greatest impact on our community. We are invested in Evanston now, forever and for everyone.